4. Giving feedback
The University's Principles of Feedback
The University’s Principles of Feedback outline the standards expected of feedback for enhancing student learning:
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to providing effective feedback. The methods you use will depend upon the needs of the subject and the teaching styles and learning modes used across a programme.
What you can do
- Make sure that your students are also familiar with the principles of feedback from the beginning of their studies. This will help them to understand what they can expect from feedback at the University.
- Find ways to consistently review your feedback processes, and engage students in dialogue about what types of feedback are useful for them, and how your feedback could be improved.
How can you make sure that feedback is useful?
Assessment drives and is for learning. This doesn’t happen without good quality, useful and timely feedback.
Feedback helps students to:
- Understand the marks they have been given.
- Know where/what to improve for future assessments.
- Understand their progress against learning outcomes.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses.
- Improve their understanding of subject material and build upon their learning.
- Develop assessment literacy skills.
- Make choices regarding study pathways.
- Become self-reflective practitioners and lifelong learners.
Feedback is always formative, even when given on summative assessments.
What you can do
- Review an example of your feedback using the bullet points above. Does your feedback fulfil these points?
- Ask your students if the feedback they are given aligns with the bullet points above.
What makes feedback helpful for students?
The following table describes the characteristics of helpful feedback, and offers some specific ideas for making your feedback better quality.
|Feedback characteristic||Practical ideas|
|Personal, relevant and specific
|Actionable (all feedback should feed-forward)||
|Constructive, encouraging and motivating||
|Encourages various forms of dialogue||
|Clearly linked to assessment criteria||
Below are three fictional examples of feedback given to a student. Click on the exclamation mark icons to see some comments on aspects of these examples.
Below are some different ways of delivering feedback, and allowing students to engage with and act upon that feedback:
||How it works|
|Technology||Some of the tools provided by the University help you to provide useful feedback.
|Peer assessment||Provide an opportunity for students to assess each others work. Students are often willing to share feedback with each other, allowing different concepts and ways of working to be explored. This can easily be facilitated through the Turnitin PeerMark facility.|
|Cohort feedback||You could provide some cohort generic feedback (in addition to individual feedback) to highlight common pitfalls or misunderstandings and give students a chance to talk to both you and their peers about their work. This could be via written, audio or video feedback.|
|Clarification||Students may want to speak to the marker to help better understand their feedback. Having open office hours, or other opportunities to speak to the marker, gives students a chance to engage in dialogue about their work.|
|Other opportunities for feedback||There are ways in which you can incorporate more informal opportunities for feedback throughout a unit of learning. Below are just a few examples of ways to do this:
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that students don’t always understand that feedback has been given unless it is in a written format attached to a submitted piece of work (i.e. ‘formal’ feedback). If feedback is not in this format then you need to make it clear to students that it does constitute feedback.
Case study: How to incorporate audio feedback into the formative marking process
Gareth Bramley from the School of Law has experimented with providing audio feedback to his students, in an effort to increase active engagement with the feedback given.
The response from students has been encouraging, with students commenting that the feedback feels more personal and encouraging. In this blog post, Gareth details his experience and offers some advice for those wanting to try this feedback method.
What you can do
- Could you try out a new method of giving feedback - for example audio feedback or cohort feedback?
- Familiarise yourself with the structure of the courses your students are taking. How can you make your feedback useful for the students not just in your module, but over the whole of their journey?
- Remember to make it clear to students when they are getting feedback, especially if it is not in a written format.
This video shows the student view on what makes feedback useful for them
This guidance from the Digital Learning Team shows you how to set up ‘QuickMarks’ on Turnitin
This guidance from the Digital Learning Team shows you how to create self-marked tests/quizzes on Blackboard (MOLE)